Tuesday, September 17, 2019

An Open Letter To Cecilia D'Anastasio

I'm the old guy on the right; the other two you might know.
A gift from Gary; his kids were kind enough to sign it.

Dear Ms. D'Anastasio,

I suspect you have no idea who I am, or what I do; for that matter, I strongly doubt that you know what I've been doing for the past forty years. You might want to ask your interviewee, Mr. Morgan, and maybe you'll understand why your recent articles about Gary Gygax and his family have cause more then a little consternation here at The House of Wonders.

I understand that you are not a big fan of Gary, and what his legacy might or might not be. I'm also aware that Gary was an entirely human being with faults and issues, just like some other people I used to hang out with - Dave Arneson and Prof. M. A. R. Barker, to name two - who also had their own issues and faults. I am very aware of them, having worked with and for these people, and yet I can still after all this time respect them and honor their memories whilst remembering the great times I had with all of them.

If I may express a personal opinion, your article about Gail was just sad to read. Your more recent article, ostensibly about the release of "Secrets of Blackmoor", rubbed a lot of salt in some very old wounds; I had a front-row seat for all the legal conflicts between Dave and TSR, and your article seemed to delight in tearing open the scar tissue that some of us had had to grow back in those days.

Yes, I know you don't like Gary, and he certainly had his faults. However, he was always unfailingly polite and kind to me personally, even though he knew full well I worked for Prof. Barker and Dave Arneson at Adventure Games. That old plastic miniatures carrying-case was something he gave to me at my first Gen Con - the first one at U of WI / Parkside - and it hauled our player-character figures out to Phil's for the next decade. It's still sitting downstairs, in my little museum of gaming, and I still use it.

I think that it's more then a little sad that your most recent article, and the controversy that it has engendered, have come to overshadow Mr. Morgan's film. I think that it, and the people who in it, have gotten lost in all of the screaming and shouting on the Internet in the past weeks. Which, I think, is really too bad, not because I happen to be in the movie or because I helped with the historical research for it, but because a lot of people who I think should be heard from back in that day are in it.

And, If I may be frank, you have not done yourself or other reporters much good. You could have written a really good article about the film and the early days of gaming; now, I'll be thinking twice about giving interviews or allowing people to visit my archives.

yours, jeff berry / Chirine ba Kal


  1. Never speak to reporters. They all have their story written before they talk to you and it’s always bad.

    1. As a former reporter (local and trade press, rising to the position of deputy editor) for many years, I would dispute that broad generalisation.

      However, it's probably best to research a reporter (and their publication) before agreeing to interviews.

      Especially these days when the internet has encouraged anyone with a keyboard to describe themselves as a journalist and "opinion pieces/hatchet jobs" are cloaked as investigative journalism.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing your perspective on this. I hope it's widely read.